Category Archives: Photography

Sotheby’s Auction of the Mario Buatta Estate

Mario Buatta, affectionately known as “The Prince of Chintz”, died in October 2018 at the age of 82. On 23 January 2020, Sotheby’s will host an auction of his personal possessions, under the title Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors.

Here’s a pdf of the full 236-page catalogue for the auction, suitable for downloading.

If I could pick just one item from that catalogue, it would be this:

The catalogue describes it as a “Louis XV Five-Fold Blue and White Chinoiserie Wallpaper Screen, the Wallpaper 18th Century” The estimate is between $4,000 and $6,000, but auction house estimates for this sort of thing are always absurdly low, so as not to frighten away potential buyers. I’ll post the real price after the auction.


Mario Buatta’s interiors were designed to be reminiscent of the rooms in an English country house. Here are some samples, found on the Web:

 

 


I’ve always thought of Buatta as the Ralph Lauren of interior design.

Ralph Lauren (né Lifshitz) was born in The Bronx in the 1930s, to first-generation Jewish immigrants from Belarus. Lauren has built his empire by styling clothes that reflect a classic old-money WASP sensibility, very different from the world of his youth.

Mario Buatta was born on Staten Island in 1930s, and grew up in a house where the living
room “was off-limits so that the vacuum tracks might not get disturbed.” Buatta became the master of a style that captured the look and feel of the English country house.

Birds. Just Birds. But What Beautiful Birds They Are!

A photographer named Kamlesh Mirkale has spent years photographing the birds and other wildlife of his native India.

I found two of his photo collections on the Twitter Biodiversity feed, and posted them here because…well, just look at them.


The Red Team


The Blue Team

Washington Is Losing a Panda — The Last of Bei Bei


The Giant Pandas at the National Zoo, like all the other pandas at zoos in the United States, don’t belong to the Zoo itself. They’re effectively rented from the People’s Republic of China on a 10-year lease, for about a million dollars a year, each.

If a panda cub is born in the US, the Zoo is charged a $400,000 baby tax, and the cub must be shipped to China when it turns four years old.


Bei Bei Celebrates His Fourth Birthday

Bei Bei, the Zoo’s youngest panda, was born on 22 August 2015, so it’s time to say goodbye. Next Tuesday, 19 November 2019, he’ll leave for China.

So much for birthright citizenship.


The National Zoo has scheduled a week of special events leading up to Bei Bei’s departure, including Q&A sessions with panda keepers and panda feeding times with special treats. Airbnb is providing free hot chocolate to Zoo visitors on Saturday morning. Here’s a full listing of what’s planned. As always, admission to the Zoo is free.

If you’re not in the area, or just want to avoid DC’s November weather, you can watch the action on the Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam. Camera One will be focused exclusively on Bei Bei for the full week. (Note: Pandas sleep a lot. The cameras operate 24/7, but your best chance for seeing live panda action is at feeding times and around midday, East Coast time.)


The National Zoo has posted videos of some of Bei Bei’s most memorable moments  Here are two of them:

Bei Bei’s First Steps

Playing in the Snow

From BBC Earth — A Glorious Seven Worlds, One Planet

For the past few weeks, a brilliant new nature series called Seven Worlds, One Planet, has been playing on BBC One. Each of the seven episodes focuses on a different continent; segments of the show were filmed in 41 different countries.

The narrator is naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as if it could be anyone else.

Here’s a sample, in which a Giant Leopard Seal pursues a Tiny Penguin:

Warning. The photography in the show is stunning, but Nature is not always pretty. Some viewers in the UK have responded to parts of the series with tears or nausea.

US viewers will be able to judge for themselves when Seven WorldsOne Planet premieres on Saturday, 18 January 2020, on BBC America, AMC, IFC,  and SundanceTV.


Survivor: Galápagos

From Planet Earth II — View in Full Screen

Remember the famous “Iguana vs Snakes” sequence from the BBC series, Planet Earth II?  When that little iguana made a run for safety as the rocks around it erupted with dozens of hungry snakes, we witnessed the most exciting chase scene in any movie or TV show released in 2016. I’ve reposted it at the bottom of this item. Three years later, it’s as breathtaking as ever.

Possibly the Dumbest Couple in the World

Predictor. When you want to be sure.

They’re shocked and delighted to find that, yes, she is indeed pregnant.

The ad, created in 2011 for the Dutch company Predictor, is once again making the rounds on the Net.

Too bad the happy couple missed this Belgian commercial, which ran a few years earlier. For best results, DO NOT READ THE TITLE until after you’ve seen the ad.

“Infinite Space” at ARTECHOUSE

“Infinite Space, the first major retrospective of the work of award-winning, Los-Angeles-based, Turkish-born artist Refik Anadol, invites visitors to open their senses to the endless transformation and infinite possibilities at the intersection of man and machine.”
—from the program notes

That quote got me thinking about the endless transformation and infinite possibilities at the intersection of me and my vacuum cleaner, but perhaps I was taking it too literally.

The current environment in the main room at ARTECHOUSE suffered from a long, dull opening sequence that drove many of us from the room. It was only later that the artist gave us a taste of the mesmerizing beauty that keeps us coming back to the venue:

The walls in ARTECHOUSE’s main room are 30-feet high, so the video is best viewed full screen.

The real fun at this show was in the Infinity Rooms in the side galleries, where mirrored, angled walls created a high tech funhouse effect. Seeing two people who look vaguely familiar simultaneously approaching you from a corridor on your right and from a side hall on your left, and then realizing that they’re both you, is a wonderfully disorienting experience.*

If you wanted, you could be a one-person chorus line.

Two’s company, four’s a crowd.
Look closer. There are only four people in this picture.

“Infinite Space” will run through 2 September 2019.


The Lady From Shanghai
That Scene from Orson Welles’ 1947 film noir.


*Even though those two people are considerably older and heavier than you are.

Meanwhile, back at Kensington Palace…

The current residents of Kensington Palace, Queen Victoria’s birthplace, have just released some family photos and videos from their recent visit The Royal Horticultural Society’s Back to Nature Garden.

Prince William, next in line for the throne after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, is Queen Victoria’s great-great-great-great grandson, and Prince George, Victoria’s great-great-great-great-great grandson, follows Prince William.

All media come from the Kensington Palace Twitter feed.